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The Next Food Network Star's Ten Dollar Dinners debuts

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 9th 2009 6:02PM
melissa_darabian_food_NetworkA week ago -- in TV time -- Melissa D'Arabian was crowned the winner of The Next Food Network Star. Presto-chango and one week later, her new show debuted on The Food Network, called Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa D'Arabian. That wasn't the concept she was talking about during the competition, but within hours of last Sunday's finale, FN had decided that this would be the format for Melissa.

It was with a lot of curiosity that I checked out the debut of Ten Dollar Dinners. Would Melissa be able to adapt her "kitchen survival guide" and perky homemaker style to a skin flint, sawbuck a dinner concept? Would the personality -- that the judges harped on wanting to see -- come out in a slickly-made premiere episode?

First, the good news. Melissa did well and seemed pretty relaxed. There were things I learned about her that never came out in the competition, like her meeting her husband in France and learning to cook authentic, rustic French food because she lived there. Not surprisingly, since Melissa shined for her baking in the Food Network Star competition, the centerpiece of her first show was how to make the perfect pie crust. So there were positives to be sure, and some good tips.

What was bad? Well, I wouldn't call it bad, but the concept of "Four people, ten bucks, infinite possibilities," is really limiting. The meal for the debut episode, for instance, was a lunch. The menu? Green salad, potato torte, and applesauce granita. The protein involved was all of four slices of bacon and a cup of cheese.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure you can make dishes with a limited budget, but this wasn't a realistic dinner -- or lunch -- for four people. At some point, applesauce for dessert won't cut it, nor will lots of potatoes and pasta and rice. All this assumes a well-stocked pantry and herbs and spices that don't cost a dime.

The bottom line for me is that the concept seemed to come before the star. Melissa shouldn't have to cook within a ten dollar framework. Maybe after six episodes of this, Melissa can morph into another kind of cooking show where she won't have to count pennies and can cook like the other two Food Network Star winners, Guy Fieri and Aaron McCargo, who aren't restrained by budget considerations.

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Melissa stunk on the Next Food Network Star and she still stinks...glad to see she is not on any more. It was clear to me that Jeffrey should have won. He had more personality in his little finger that Melissa does in her whole mouth full of teeth. Go, Jeffrey. Good luck with your new show...I can't wait to see it...Does anyone know when it will start and where it will be?

October 11 2009 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She was not my favorite to win either but I decided to give her a chance and watch the show. I was extremely disappointed with the $10 buck meal format. All carbs--no depth. During the competition, the judges constantly complemented the taste of her food. The $10 limits the quality & appeal of recipes she is allowed to make. In reality, the key to feeding a large family in a healthy way is by having a garden and by freezing & canning yourself. It is not by serving a bunch of carbs with a couple of asparagus spears. Food network is to blame for this bad show--not the inexperienced star.

September 20 2009 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mellissa won the contest, but not the support she needs to become the star she could be. PLEASE LET HER COOK WITHOUT A BUDGET OF TEN DOLLARS. People who are that deprived aren't watching your network, they're out looking for jobs! Mellissa has talent and lots of personality to make her show work. Let her do her thing or stop pretending that the winner has won! Start by giving her a prime time slot. Your evening line up doesn't teach a thing after Rachael is finished. It's too boring for words

September 16 2009 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sandy Mulligan

I have to admit, I also loved the concept of the "spice Smuggler" with Jeff Sadd. It was different, it had the romance of distant areas, and tastes, it took us out of our comfort zone in the kitchen and opened us up to something new.
Mallisa is sort of "old school"... the type of cooking show you saw with your mom. Todays cooking shows have to compete with the web, and that offers all sorts of world wide posibilities. Im sorry to say it but the $10 a day concept just does not fly.

September 15 2009 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kathryn Wilkie

Would love to give Melissa the benefit of the doubt, but after watching the second episode, have too much of a headache to watch again. She uses too much needless chatter and tries way too hard. Would love to have seen Jeffrey as the winner.

August 31 2009 at 1:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do not like the show - she is terrible in front of a camera. GIVE ME JEFFREY!!!! She talks toot much ! There is no way that is a meal for 4 for $10 maybe four 3 year olds. Go back home and cook for your family! I will not watch and I watch a LOT of food network!!

August 29 2009 at 10:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joyce's comment

I can not believe Jeffrey didn't win. Loved his concept show. He should still be giving a show. He has a much better show. Ten Dollars is goofy and the host is annoying.

August 30 2009 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One more thing. Would have much preferred Jeffery's show. Always looking for a new ingredient to try. Did that one year for my dad at Christmas. Went to the local gourmet store and picked out 3-4 unusual ingredients and created a recipe for each. This was about 10 years ago and he still used a couple of them.

August 25 2009 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

4 people $10. My wife and I have been doing that, better than this fist show, for 15 years (actually 5 people, including a 6'+ 200 lb.+ teenager). Yes we start with a fully-stocked pantry and spice rack, but it's not hard if you shop the sales and we do it 4-5 times a week.

August 25 2009 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Melissas show 10buck meal is a joke. I think she is boring and she talks way to much. Not to mention she is so slow on what she's making. She is no Racheal or giada.

August 23 2009 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not planning on tuning in again. Amazing!!! You go to the flea market in the AM & come home & whip up that lunch? Puhleeze!!! The meal didn't quite go with the name & concept of the show. (Seemed more like "The Gourmet Next Door".....which got cancelled a couple of years ago!!!) By the way, during the competition, she kept telling how she cooked with her girls.......then we see they're 4 BABIES....I assumed, from listening to her, that they were old enough to cook with & have fun with in the kitchen..........like Jeffrey's daughter. Loved Jeffrey....he had a real concept of cooking with kids & more of a FAMILY fun thing in the kitchen.

August 11 2009 at 6:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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